On Homosexuality and Abortion, the Voice of the Third World
Pope Francis urges openness to the “peripheries” of the globe. But then it cannot be Germany and France that establish the Church’s teaching and practice on gay marriage and communion for the remarried
by Sandro Magister
ROME, May 6, 2014 – In the run-up to the synod on the family, one of the most striking elements has been the questionnaire distributed “for the purpose of obtaining concrete and real data on the theme of the synod”:
Both the formulation of the 39 questions of the questionnaire and the ways in which the responses were collected were not such as to permit a statistical compilation of the results. The responses were supposed to remain confidential. Some episcopates made them public, however, especially in Germany, Austria, and German-speaking Switzerland, highlighting the vast distance in their respective countries between the Church’s moral teaching and the behavior of many of the faithful.
The secretariat of the synod is preparing a comprehensive report on the responses to the questionnaire.
But in the meantime, it can be useful to skim the results of a scientific survey carried out in 40 countries of the five continents by the most accredited center of research on religion, the Washington-based Pew Research Center:
The survey, conducted between 2013 and the beginning of 2014 and made public on April 15, asked the interviewees if they thought eight situations or behaviors were morally acceptable or not, six of them regarding the synod’s theme, the family:
– extramarital sexual relations on the part of married persons,
– sexual relations between unmarried adults,
The European countries surveyed are the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia.
In North America, the United States and Canada.
In Latin America, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Venezuela.
In Asia, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Philippines, South Korea.
In Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda.
In Oceania, Australia.
The responses vary from issue to issue and from country to country. But while contraception and divorce are approved of by the majority of the population everywhere, abortion, homosexuality, and extramarital relations are considered morally unacceptable by the majority of interviewees in the majority of countries.
For example, here are the percentages of persons who in each of the following countries consider abortion morally unacceptable:
Philippines 93 percent
El Salvador 85
South Africa 61
South Korea 58
Palestinian Territories 54
United States 49
United Kingdom 25
Czech Republic 18
While these are the percentages of those who consider homosexuality morally unacceptable:
Ghana 98 percent
Palestinian Territories 94
El Salvador 70
South Africa 62
South Korea 57
United States 37
United Kingdom 17
Czech Republic 14
As can be noted, the main division in the numbers is between some European countries and Canada on the one hand, and on the other the African countries and those with a predominantly Muslim population.
In Latin America, Argentina is the country that comes closest to the European standards.
But the survey of the Pew Research Center also highlights the nature of the division: between the majority opinion in some areas of Europe and North America, where indifference reigns with regard to abortion, the dissolution of marriage, and “gender” ideology, and the opposite sensibility of other immense areas of the world, especially in Africa and Asia, which nonetheless have serious problems of their own, from arranged marriages to polygamy.
If, as Pope Francis tirelessly preaches, the Church’s mission is not to close itself off in its old geographical and cultural perimeters but to open itself to the “peripheries” of the world, it is evident that the Catholicism of Germany cannot be – as is happening to some extent – the universal parameter for changing the teaching and practice of the Church in matters of family, communion for the divorced and remarried, and same-sex marriage.
English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.